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Best Tools to help create a Heat Map

A heatmap is any graphical representation of data using a system of color-coding to represent different values within the assessment. They are commonly used within mapping software, bringing analysis of a company’s consumer engagement to a geographical area. Most heat maps have a sliding scale of color integration, meaning the color will vary depending on the concentration level within a region. These colors may be different shades depending on specific groups (for example, red being the highest density and blue being minimal engagement), or they may shift in opacity on a map (with bright, vibrant colors representing areas with the highest levels of interaction.

Adapting Heat Maps to Specific Industries

A geographic heat map can help business owners identify specific trends in their data that might otherwise be difficult to see. A heatmap might highlight saturated areas within an industry while showing other locations with market opportunities. A business owner can identify customers who currently access their products, detailing any gradients near your physical locations and spotting demographics too far for customers to travel to.

The geographic heat map can also help you create a visual metric of potential locations within an area. Using sales data, a company can assess the highest sales density areas, developing a heat map according to zip code (or postal codes). This application helps with competitor analysis or distribution of resources.

Tools Required for Heat Maps

Creating heat maps depends on the application you’re using and the result you’d like to assess. While most programs offer a variety of mapping functionality, creating a custom heat map often requires specific tools. To help get you started, here are a few tools you’re going to need and why they’re helpful for your analysis:

Data Management Software

While countless types of data management programs are available, you don’t need extensive software to monitor your customer acquisition. Most companies will find that a generic spreadsheet program is sufficient for tracking and recording all customer data. Setting up a spreadsheet with your datasets is simple; include the physical address or postal code with each entry, along with any relevant data you’d like to analyze in the future.

Excel is a popular option for spreadsheets, along with Google Sheets for those wanting a cloud-based service. Schedule the data entry at regular intervals so your heat maps remain accurate.

Mapping Software

Arguably the most critical component to heat mapping, the software you use can influence the ease, accessibility, and affordability overall. Many different options are available, choosing one of personal preference and affordability. Always look at the various features and functionality of the software before purchasing, as not all programs offer heat mapping.

Ideally, look for a program that offers a free version or trial before purchase. Some mapping software contains extensive options for their customers, but the user interface is difficult and complicated. Consider how often you’re going to be using the program and the technological capabilities of your team. Once you like a specific program, ask team members to try it out too. You want anyone responsible for creating, inputting, or interpreting the maps to feel comfortable using the software.

Google Account

Google maps is a popular mapping platform, but unfortunately, it remains limited for professional use. If you’re looking for mapping software that integrates with Google Maps, you’ll need access with a Google account. Creating a Google account is free, giving you access to any of the platform’s functionality (including email, maps, office programs, and more). Although you won’t be able to incorporate heat maps directly on the application, using mapping software with Google Maps integration combines the best of both worlds.

Features to Consider When Purchasing

Google Maps Integration

Look for mapping software that integrates with Google Maps over a stationary mapping application. Google Maps offers real-time insight into your mapping functions, meaning anything you upload will be current and relevant. Any application that offers previously installed maps or geographic locations will likely remain limited to mandatory updates.

Cloud-Based Access

Cloud-based software will store any data remotely instead of on physical hard drives. Over time, data can bog down a system, influencing the speed and accessibility overall. The cloud protects large sets of data while keeping it secure virtually. With this service, you’ll never have to worry about space, speed, or accessibility. Additionally, the cloud allows remote access from any device, keeping your team connected wherever they are.

Customization Options

Although this component isn’t critical for functioning, having customization within your mapping software brings a competitive edge to your business. Look for software that allows visual customization, from the intensity threshold to the color scale.

Cost Overall

The cost for mapping software can vary significantly, with some options remaining free to use and others costing thousands a month. Most complementary programs will be substantially limited in functionality, while expensive mapping software is often more than the average budget allows. Take a few moments to price out the software and how the features relate to your needs.

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